In 1871 the town of Papineau was platted by Dr. D. K. Carnell and Mr. Hay. Rice, Lottinville, and Company moved their Chicago, Danville and Vincennes Railroad depot and corn and livestock business there from north of Beaver Creek, and Savoie and Barney put up the first store. C. F. Lottinville was appointed postmaster.
Papineau was incorporated in 1874 with F. Langdoc, president; C. F. Lottinville, clerk; and Joseph Laveaux, treasurer. Thomas, Henry and Charles Lottinville were successful dealers in general merchandise, and Arthur W. Frogge was a lumber and coal dealer. Christopher S. Guthrie, a farmer and stock-raiser, along with a Mr. Hoyle, introduced the first steam threshing machine in this part of the state and participated in General Sherman's great march to the sea.
In 1872 the Roman Catholic Church was built at a cost of about $1200.00. The attending priests were the Reverends Rouquier of Beaverville and Lettellier of St. Anne. The church was blown from its foundation by a severe wind and never restored. The building, located in the same block as the District 8 Elementary School, was torn down in the 1930's.
In 1884 fifteen German immigrants net west of Papineau at the "old Leeder farm," beginning what is now Immanuel's United Church of Christ in the village. The latter remains the only church in the township.
The frame school was built in the early 1900's followed by the brick school in 1920. Former students of a Miss Shay tell about her long black sateen apron with the pocket that contained a red rubber hose. The eight grades were usually divided between the two classrooms on the top floor. The lower level contained two rooms used for recreation in bad weather, the rest rooms, and the kitchen beginning in the 1950's. Also during the 1950's seventh and eighth grade students were transported to St. Anne Elementary School. Although that practice was halted briefly, it was eventually resumed. The district became a part of the St. Anne district in January, 1972. The remaining building became a social club, a family residence, and is now a flea market site.
In 1916 the Papineau Coliseum was built. A balcony for spectators and a projection booth overlooked the dance floor, a popular choice for wedding dances, bridal showers, square dances, Royal Neighbor of America conventions, political rallies and even eighth grade graduation. In the early 1940's the basement began housing tavern businesses. Presently, the building is seldom used.
The older frame town hall two blocks south of the Coliseum was used for the meetings of village officials, the Royal Neighbors, the Modern Woodmen, and the Odd Fellows. It was also used for the village and township polling places.
The railroad property running along the west side of the tracks had been popularly call the "park" for many years. That was the location for Labor Day picnics sponsored by the church, for softball and baseball games by town teams of the area in the 1930's, Little League games in later years, and now for a town playground and for the "Papineau Fun Days," a community project held in June.
From 1890 to 1903 Papineau businesses thrived. In 1908 the area and the 188 residents of the village were served by stores selling agricultural implements, carriages, wagons, coal and lumber, dry goods, furniture, groceries, harness and horse clothing, and liquors. There was confectionery shop, a blacksmith and horse shoer who repaired shoes and boots, and a physician-surgeon. Threshing and tilling businesses as well as grain and livestock terminals were busy.
Thomas Denoyer's Jackson and Ford Auto Agency was in the building now housing Langellier's Locker Plant. Through the years it was a grocery store, feed store, and a cream-testing station as well with the owners being Mayhew, Ruebensam, Miller, Reichert, Hebert, and Hinrichs. Next door on the north was Fred Bass's Auto Repair and now used for storage only. The Stadt Blankenburg Hotel was on the west side of town in what is now a private dwelling.
The train depot at the south end of the village on the west side of the railroad tracks was a place where people gathered to meet the trains and to exchange news. The huge water tower used to fill the steam locomotives was torn down in the early 1950's, and the depot was closed and torn down by the early 1960's.
Disasters included two train derailments in the 1950's. One was a freight train and one was a passenger train wreck in which a conductor was killed. Walter Ruebensam's farm implement business burned in 1961 destroying that entire brick building which also housed the post office. The building, built by the Tegge brothers for a general store, bank, and auto agency, had been used also as a grocery store by E. A. Lesch as well as by Ruebensam. The Tegge Bank had collapsed during the great Depression, and that part of the building became the post office for Charlotte Wahl and later Velma DeWitt.
After the fire, Mrs. DeWitt had a small frame structure built at the north end of the main street. That remains the present post office. the only other businesses are now the locker plant, Curtis Orr's Papineau Grain company, Gail DeWitt's Mini-Store and Repair Shop, and Pence's bulk plant for fuel which was operated many years by Emil Miller and "Mac" Chenore. The volunteer fire department's equipment is kept in a building maintained by the township and now used for village and township meetings as well as for polling.
The village's population peaked in the 1970 census at 219, but it is listed as 179 now. The present village president is female Joy Zelhart, but as early as 1956, the village had elected Marie Wolf as mayor. Harly Miller served from 1961-1981, followed by Willard Burger until 1985.
(from Iroquois County History-1985 transcribed by Carrol Mick at firstname.lastname@example.org)
These Papineau pics are of the Catholic Church (long gone), the Depot, the Grain elevator and two pics of the Grade School, the first about 1940, the second in 2000. (contributed by Bob Bovie at Bobbovie@aol.com).
©2005 Carrol Mick and Illinois Genealogy Trails